100 Black and Latinx Engineering Students Take On Silicon Valley For Annual Tech Trek
Photo Credit: MLT Tech Trek 2018 attendees participate in a mentorship session with tech industry professionals Credit: Courtesy of Management Leadership for Tomorrow

100 Black and Latinx Engineering Students Take On Silicon Valley For Annual Tech Trek

You’d have to be under a rock to not know that Silicon Valley has been experiencing major diversity issues. Some may blame it on a “pipeline” problem, but Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) begs to differ.

Founded in 2002, MLT is a non-profit organization whose mission is to change the disparities of career trajectories for minorities. Since it launched, the organization has helped more than 7,000 people looking to take their careers to new heights.

“Tech is a team sport and we’re helping our fellows be great at it. You don’t generally get to experience that in the classroom,” MLT VP and West Coast Managing Director Mark Taguchi said.

This weekend, MLT will host its fifth annual Tech Trek, where one hundred Black and Latinx engineering students from across the United States will receive training and mentorship to shape the layout of their careers. In addition, MLT helps students secure internships at major tech companies like Slack, Facebook, and Microsoft.

“I’ve always felt intimidated by the fear of not knowing what big tech companies in SF [San Francisco] are like, but being able to experience it for the first time with my MLT cohort, and meet some of these companies themselves, will be life changing to say the least,” Festus Ojo, an incoming Facebook intern and 2019 MLT cohort participant, said. Ojo is attending this year’s Tech Trek.

The college sophomores and juniors will participate in mock interviews, workshops, prototyping sessions, and more. Students will also have the opportunity to visit Facebook, Intuit, LinkedIn, and Salesforce offices, plus network with current employees.

Companies like Lyft, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Twitter have all struggled to make and maintain their diversity targets. Hiring practices and biases often leave Black and Latinx tech workers vulnerable and underrepresented.

That’s made clear by data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which found Black and Latinx people make up 7.4 and 8 percent of the tech workforce, respectively. Meanwhile, 83 percent of leadership positions in high tech jobs are taken by white men.

Companies are developing partnerships with organizations like MLT and Black Girls Code in hopes of building more inclusive work environments. However, revamping their recruiting and hiring techniques could be more beneficial to tech companies looking to change their diversity states.

“The best way for companies to create more diversity in tech is to diversify their personal networks – both professional and social,”  Taguchi said. “This is especially true at the executive level, and this requires intentionality. ”

MLT joins organizations like Code 2040 and the American Association of University Women in bringing racial and gender diversity to Silicon Valley and other major tech firms.